After two days of competition in Bergen, Scotland Women 7s have won promotion to the FIRA-AER Grand Prix Series for 2015. Winning all their matches on day one, beating Finland this morning in the quarter final (20-10) and Romania in the semis (14-7) saw the Scots back in the top tier of European competition and into a final against Ukraine.
A massive defensive effort kept Ukraine away from the line until the last minute of the first half, when they scored, the try matched by a blistering run from centre Gillian Inglis to even the scores. With two tries, one converted, after a hard-fought second half, however, it was Ukraine who lifted the Bergen trophy.
Head coach Scott Forrest said: "The goal of the programme was to get promoted back into the Grand Prix, so we achieved that, which was great. As good as that is, it's always disappointing to lose in a final but I thought the girls played outstandingly.
"Even though it's been such a short programme - five weeks - I've seen the girls move on in terms of individual skills and understanding the sevens structure. They've embraced the challenge head on and they look like better players for it.
"We need to sit down and look at what the programme is for next year. If I'm being honest, I don't want to not see the girls again for eleven and half months and then we have to cram again. We need to build on this momentum - that's what the girls want too, because they get so much from it."
Quarter final – Scotland v Finland
Day-two game-one syndrome shadowed Scotland’s early performance in the game, with less ball and more missed tackles than Saturday’s pool matches. Top seeds going into day two it was, however, Scotland who scored first with two tries in two minutes from winger Sarah Dixon. Finland fought back with a try from turnover ball, Scotland coming back, on the five minute mark, with a run into the top corner by captain Steph Johnston to make it 15-5 at half time.
The match was more evenly balanced in the second half, Finland fighting back to score a second try three minutes in. With the Scots always threatening to cross again, Johnston completed her brace with a minute to go, taking advantage of the gap and running a great line to score, and make it 20-10 at the final whistle.
Team: Johnston (2 tries), Steven, Sergeant, Dixon (2 tries), Gill, Slave, Forsberg
Subs: Anderson (unused), Law (for Steven), Inglis (for Sergeant), Bain (for Dixon), Martin (for Gill)
Semi final – Scotland v Romania
On a roll after their last-minute last-kick quarter final victory over Czech Republic, Romania hit the ground running and kept the pressure on Scotland throughout a nail-biter of a semi final.
With conditions cooling down and a light drizzle freshening up the air, it was a nervy start to the game, some great defence from Scotland resisting the Romanian onslaught. After a ding-dong possession battle, the Scots upped the pace, got the ball out wide and Dixon shot off down the wing to score, Martin adding the extras – half time 7-0
After being pinged for a high tackle near the line, Romania were awarded a penalty try, duly converted, which levelled the scores. With the minutes ticking away and Scotland pressed into their own half, fingernails were shortening by the second in the stand. Then the Scots forced turnover, the ball spiralled wide to Dixon and she set off at pace down the far touchline, jogging over to touch down as the chase was off. With a colossal boot from out wide, Martin kicked to make it 14-7. The hooter sounded as the last play of the game continued, Romania in pursuit but the ball was fumbled and spilled and it was game over.
Scotland had done enough to regain their place in the Grand Prix series for 2015 and make the Cup final.
Team: Johnston (try), Dixon (try), Martin (2 cons), Forsberg, Anderson, Inglis, Slaven
Subs: Steven (for Forsberg), Sergeant (for Dixon), Law, Bain, Gill
Cup Final – Scotland v Ukraine
With massive support from the local community in Bergen and led on to the pitch by the Bergen Pipe Band, the Scots geared up for their first Cup final.
This was a different kind of match, with the focus on tackling and defense rather than possession and running the line. The Scots were outstanding in the opening ten-minute half, deflecting an awesome onslaught from the experienced Ukrainians, tackling into touch and forcing turnover ball, with the forwards, especially Tess Forsberg, Ruth Slaven and Rose Anderson, tested to the limit.
Ukraine eventually broke through in the ninth minute, pushing over the line to score. The try was matched in the early part of the second half, by a great run from centre Gillian Inglis who legged it into the corner to even the scores.
The Scots were forced into mistakes, not releasing at the tackle, and that allowed Ukraine to get ball which they quickly turned into two tries, one converted. Scotland never gave up but simply ran out of minutes, the final score 17-5.
Team: Johnston, Slaven, Anderson, Dixon, Inglis (try), Steven
Subs: Law, Forsberg, Gill, Sergeant, Bain (unused)
Scotland squad for FIRA-AER Division A Championship
Rose Anderson (RHC Cougars)
Claire Bain (RHC Cougars)
Sarah Dixon (Stirling County Women)
Tess Forsberg (Richmond)
Sarah Gill (Murrayfield Wanderers)
Steph Johnston (Worcester)
Gillian Inglis (Melrose)
Sarah Law (Murrayfield Wanderers)
Lisa Martin (Murrayfield Wanderers)
Annabel Sergeant (Richmond)
Ruth Slaven (Murrayfield Wanderers)
Laura Steven (Murrayfield Wanderers)
Scotland’s pool matches on Saturday 7 June
Scotland v Finland 36-0
Scotland v Croatia 36-0
Scotland v Moldova 38-7